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The Changing Catholic Retail Landscape

I meant to write this post as a wrap-up of changes in our industry back in January but didn't have the time. Today we received word that another major change has happened so I thought it would be a good time to recap recent mergers, closures and other changes in our industry.

First, we have been hearing from a large number of stores that business is down a lot. That's why we launched the Catholic Store Finder. We have received a lot of comments from people using the service that they didn't realize that there was a store in their area. Unfortunately, increased exposure won't help some of these stores that have closed or are closing soon.

Sophia Institute Press sent out several pleas for financial assistance last year which resulted in a partnership with Thomas More College. Unfortunately, it seems that things are still not back on sound financial footing because Sophia just sent out another plea for money a week ago.

TAN has had a rocky financial time over the past several years and finally went into a second bankruptcy. The result was a buyout by St. Benedict Press which is somehow associated with Goodwill Publishing, a publisher of Christian books, which also provides financial backing for catholiccompany.com.

Following on the acquisition of Servant Books by St. Anthony Messenger (some would say to give an orthodox veneer to the company), Franciscan Press was also acquired by St. Anthony Messenger.

Franciscan University Press closed its doors a couple of years ago.

A failed merger between Gerffert (holy card importer) and William Hirten (Catholic gift importer) and Bonella Italia resulted in a lawsuit in the New York Eastern District Court. Hopefully this will be resolved soon.

Today we found out that one of the larger greeting card suppliers, Barton Cotton, filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy and closed its doors.

Judging from things we have heard from our vendors and other stores there will probably be several more major shakeups in the industry this year.

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Bob August 16, 2010, 10:09 am

    Too bad. I see several Catholic publishing houses erroneously refuse to publish books on Medjugorje (it has not been condemned and is in an official neutral state within the Church and NOT in the hands of the local bishop but in the hands of the Vatican so what the local bishop says about it is not relevant at this point).

    This has NOT prevented the books from being published; it has only prevented the Catholic publishers who erroneously refuse that subject from reaping the profits from that much-in-demand topic, which are instead going to Protestant or secular publishing houses. It is so misguided and such a shame. Too bad.

    Bob

  • Bob August 16, 2010, 10:17 am

    I should have added that I have a book that might make a profit but it has a lot of Medjugorje in it so I am having trouble finding a Catholic publisher, the route I would prefer. I tried Sophia Institute but they said they cannot accept new manuscripts since they are in a ‘transitional’ phase right now (i.e. fighting to avoid going under, it take it). So I too am looking at Christian (some tolerate Catholic oriented books) or secular publishing or even self-publishing via Amazon’s createspace and kindle.

    Catholic Jan Conell’s national best seller on Medjugorje (Visions of the Chiuldren) had to go to a protestant house, I believe. Wayne Weible has had several ‘hits’ about Medjugorje, too.

    • Ian August 17, 2010, 9:38 am

      Medjugorje is a problem because the visionaries, unlike visionaries of approved visions, have refused to be obedient to their bishop and go around spreading their visions without approval. Until Medjugorje is officially approved, we will not carry any titles supporting it, just as we don’t carry anything by supposed visionaries who haven’t been named at least Servant of God by the Church.

      Be careful what you follow when those involved aren’t in total obedience. It is a bad sign.

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